Hot Works, is it worth the Risk?
Due to the nature of the work involved in the roofing industry health and safety will always be an issue. Whilst working at height is the most obvious risk, Hot Works, although a completely avoidable hazard continues to be a potential source of danger for not only contractors and the general public but also the building itself.
In recent years there have been many catastrophic fires caused by roofing contractors using naked flames to dry and install various roofing systems, below are a few high-profile examples:
- Centre Parcs Elvedon ? Total cost of damage £60 million
- Mount Murray Hotel, Isle of Mann ? Total Cost of damage £17 million
- National Library of Wales ? Total cost of damage £5 million
- Selsey Academy ? Total cost unknown, Academy demolished and re-built
These unfortunate accidents not only result in massive fines, custodial sentences and potential loss of life but have a massive impact on the business in question and the surrounding environment, all completely AVOIDABLE.
Many specification writers (e.g. architects, surveyors, building owners, roofing manufacturers, roofing contractors) may not be aware of their responsibilities under the Construction Design and Management Regulation (CDM) 2015, which states:
?The person who selects products for use in construction is a designer and must take account of health and safety issues arising from their use. If a product is purpose-built, the person who prepares the specification is a designer and so are manufacturers, if they develop a detailed design?
Therefore, the contractor who carries out the work must be 100% certain they have minimised the risk as much as possible.
After investigation into hot works related incidents in the USA, a Hot Works Standard was introduced. The key focus of this is to improve training, supervision and encourage operatives to test areas and check for the presence of flammable substances. However, one of the key stipulations of the US standard is that ?hot works should be avoided wherever possible by considering the use of other methods?. An interesting and sensible statement.
The NFRC have recently launched their own Safe2Torch Scheme, this is similar to the US scheme and is designed to significantly reduce the risk of roof fires when using gas torches, either to dry out roofs or when used to install torch-on membranes. That said, this statement is part of the Safe2Torch policy ?this means that where any fire risk has been identified or more importantly, where it cannot be ruled out, then the relevant parts of that specification must default to a torch free solution?
The question has to be why not completely eliminate the risk of fire from the beginning?
Makers Construction Ltd recognise that traditionally torch on felt has been widely used for many years as the material of choice for flat roofs, but whilst any initiatives are beneficial including the NFRC?s own Safe2Torch, the risk still remains. Here at Makers we embrace new technology and innovation so you won?t see torch on felt as part of any of our solutions.
In essence Hot Works is the application of heat as part of a refurbishment, maintenance or repair job, when it comes to roofing work there is two applications where a flame would be used.
This is the use of a blow torch, directly applying the flame to the felt to help bond by melting the bitumen within the material. This method is quick, but carries a high risk, torching can reach temperatures over 1093°C or 2000°F. Roofers may suffer serious burns from the torch or the hot modified bitumen they are applying. This method has all but replaced the traditional Pour and roll system.
Drying of Substrate
In the event of a roof becoming wet it is important to ensure drying out is done. There are several methods of drying a roof that can be employed by the roofing contractor, but the most common method is still by use of a gas torch. So even if the chosen roofing system is cold applied the contractor has introduced a flame to a flame free system, is this considered good working practise?
Traditionally, Hot Works have been a constant feature of flat roofing projects across the UK because there was no cost-effective alternative. Due to huge leaps forward in liquid technology why do we continue to take the risk, no matter how small the chance of fire. That is why I believe it?s time to approach flat roofing in a different way and deliver the safest roofing projects possible.
Makers, do it the safe way?
Our choice of products and partners allows us to offer an unrivalled approach to liquid roofing while also offering the best technical solution for your project.
We embrace the latest technology and proven manufacturers systems which is applied by our own directly employed workforce who are qualified in the products they use which allows us to offer substantial guarantees from both manufacturer and Makers.
Here at Makers we have a long list of Key Blue-Chip clients who can testify to our safety lead approach to roofing projects.
For more information on this hot topic or to find out more about Makers and what we offer, please contact the Marketing team.
Alex Bloor – Business Development Roofing
Verona Murphy – Sales & Marketing
or 0845 899 4444